BalletCollective Sneak Peek

New York City Ballet dancers, a Telluride backdrop and choreography by up-and-comer Troy Schumacher? Sounds like the makings of dance video goodness to us. BalletCollective just released a short film entitled "This Weather is Perfect," previewing an except from Dear and Blackbirds, one of Schumacher's pieces to premiere at NYU's Skirball Center later this month. The video is beautiful—Ashley Laracey and Harrison Coll dance delicately and passionately against mountains, blue skies and sweeping fields. The pickup company will perform the entire piece, plus another premiere and a performance of The Impulse Wants Company October 29–30.

 

 

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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